Conservative Victory in Canada and Lessons for Republicans

The triumph of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party in Canada's general election offers some hope for conservatives in the United States.  Harper is a very bright guy.  He is also a relatively young and articulate fellow, like Eric Cantor and Bobby Jindal.  Although it looked a few weeks ago like his government would win a landslide, Harper also had to contend with the turmoil that every government faced with the global financial crisis. 

The Conservative Party in Canada, like the Republican Party in America, is tarred as the political party favoring big business, which is a double whammy:  The governing political party during a financial crisis is also the party deemed tied to the robber barons.  So what happened in the general election -- the same thing as a presidential election -- in our English-speaking giant democracy to our north? 

Harper's party increased its plurality in Parliament, giving the Conservative Party the right to form the next government with more muscle than after the last election, in January 2006, the one that brought conservatives in Canada into power after years in exile.  Conservatives did better in almost every region of Canada than they had done in 2006. 

If a few cultural issues had not swung the wrong way, Quebec might have given Conservatives more seats and Harper might well have formed a majority government.  The results, however, were good enough to claim -- amid financial distress and every opponent in Canada clinging for dear life to the skirts of Barack Obama -- a clear, solid, serious victory for Conservatives.

Why did Harper and his Conservative Party win, while McCain and the Republican Party in America seem likely to lose?    It is sad, perhaps, but true that in American presidential elections since 1976, with few exceptions, the most handsome candidate and the smoothest sounding candidate won the presidential election.  We have become a world which judges people largely on how they look and sound rather than what they say.  Conservatives in Canada, like Conservatives in Britain, but unlike Republicans in America have selected men, unlike McCain, who are as pretty as Obama. 

Stephen Harper is articulate and attractive.  McCain gives mediocre speeches.  He comes across as old and dull in debates, and he lacks much snap on television.  This is not fair, but it is fact.  How smart is Stephen Harper?  He graduated at the top of his high school class and was a member of a national quiz show team for Canadian high school students.  Harper worked on the Imperial Oil computer systems and is a guest lecturer in economics at the University of Calgary.  Stephen Harper is not only very bright, but he appears very bright, very youthful, very poised.

He pulled up Conservative Party candidates in most ridings in Canada.  Polls consistently showed that if Canadians could directly vote for the Prime Minister, Harper would win easily against any of the three parties in opposition.  This polling data is similar to what polls show in Great Britain:  Young, pleasant looking, glib David Cameron would trounce dull, older Gordon Browne in any direct election.  We can bewail the triumph of appearance over meaning, of image over substance, but ignoring that means losing elections.

Harper also was to the Right of his opponents on every issue, even if he was not very "conservative" by American standards.  While McCain has been all over the map on issues, Harper has been consistent and predictable in his message.  No one in Canada could have doubted that on every single issue of consequence, Harper was more conservative than the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, or the Bloc Quebec, the other three parties that won seats in this election.  Harper stood for something in a way that McCain has not. 

Conservatives in Canada also united behind Harper.  Recall the huge bounce that McCain got when he tapped Sarah Palin?  Having leadership that is genuinely popular with members of the political party helps immensely in many ways.  Stephen Harper is just about perfectly fit, ideologically, with the Conservative Party in Canada.   

Harper and the Conservative Party in Canada were the strongest supporters of an unpopular Canadian military presence in Afghanistan.  The party and its leader faced  a troubling financial crisis.  They faced provincial prime ministers who urged voters to support anyone but the Conservative Party.  Yet Harper and the Conservative Party emerged with a substantially stronger mandate to govern than the previous Harper Government possessed.   

Republicans should pay attention.  Youth, looks, smart-sounding, reasonable candidates win elections.  Obama is not winning because he is a radical Leftist:  He is winning because Obama is hiding and masking every Leftist impulse he has.  America is a much more conservative nation than Canada, yet Canada, with a telegenic, clever, and politically astute conservative leader has just re-elected, with a much stronger mandate, the Conservative Party and its popular leader. 

Republicans:  watch, plan, note, and learn.  Think of a Jindal-Pailin, Cantor-Palin, Jindal-Cantor type ticket.  Think utter ideological fidelity combined with pleasing and energetic personality.  Think victory.  Think victory of the most conservative positions the electorate will allow.  That is precisely what Democrats have done.  That is also precisely what conservatives in our friends to the North have done.  Harper's victory should school Republicans in politics today.

Bruce Walker is the author of  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and the recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
The triumph of Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party in Canada's general election offers some hope for conservatives in the United States.  Harper is a very bright guy.  He is also a relatively young and articulate fellow, like Eric Cantor and Bobby Jindal.  Although it looked a few weeks ago like his government would win a landslide, Harper also had to contend with the turmoil that every government faced with the global financial crisis. 

The Conservative Party in Canada, like the Republican Party in America, is tarred as the political party favoring big business, which is a double whammy:  The governing political party during a financial crisis is also the party deemed tied to the robber barons.  So what happened in the general election -- the same thing as a presidential election -- in our English-speaking giant democracy to our north? 

Harper's party increased its plurality in Parliament, giving the Conservative Party the right to form the next government with more muscle than after the last election, in January 2006, the one that brought conservatives in Canada into power after years in exile.  Conservatives did better in almost every region of Canada than they had done in 2006. 

If a few cultural issues had not swung the wrong way, Quebec might have given Conservatives more seats and Harper might well have formed a majority government.  The results, however, were good enough to claim -- amid financial distress and every opponent in Canada clinging for dear life to the skirts of Barack Obama -- a clear, solid, serious victory for Conservatives.

Why did Harper and his Conservative Party win, while McCain and the Republican Party in America seem likely to lose?    It is sad, perhaps, but true that in American presidential elections since 1976, with few exceptions, the most handsome candidate and the smoothest sounding candidate won the presidential election.  We have become a world which judges people largely on how they look and sound rather than what they say.  Conservatives in Canada, like Conservatives in Britain, but unlike Republicans in America have selected men, unlike McCain, who are as pretty as Obama. 

Stephen Harper is articulate and attractive.  McCain gives mediocre speeches.  He comes across as old and dull in debates, and he lacks much snap on television.  This is not fair, but it is fact.  How smart is Stephen Harper?  He graduated at the top of his high school class and was a member of a national quiz show team for Canadian high school students.  Harper worked on the Imperial Oil computer systems and is a guest lecturer in economics at the University of Calgary.  Stephen Harper is not only very bright, but he appears very bright, very youthful, very poised.

He pulled up Conservative Party candidates in most ridings in Canada.  Polls consistently showed that if Canadians could directly vote for the Prime Minister, Harper would win easily against any of the three parties in opposition.  This polling data is similar to what polls show in Great Britain:  Young, pleasant looking, glib David Cameron would trounce dull, older Gordon Browne in any direct election.  We can bewail the triumph of appearance over meaning, of image over substance, but ignoring that means losing elections.

Harper also was to the Right of his opponents on every issue, even if he was not very "conservative" by American standards.  While McCain has been all over the map on issues, Harper has been consistent and predictable in his message.  No one in Canada could have doubted that on every single issue of consequence, Harper was more conservative than the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, or the Bloc Quebec, the other three parties that won seats in this election.  Harper stood for something in a way that McCain has not. 

Conservatives in Canada also united behind Harper.  Recall the huge bounce that McCain got when he tapped Sarah Palin?  Having leadership that is genuinely popular with members of the political party helps immensely in many ways.  Stephen Harper is just about perfectly fit, ideologically, with the Conservative Party in Canada.   

Harper and the Conservative Party in Canada were the strongest supporters of an unpopular Canadian military presence in Afghanistan.  The party and its leader faced  a troubling financial crisis.  They faced provincial prime ministers who urged voters to support anyone but the Conservative Party.  Yet Harper and the Conservative Party emerged with a substantially stronger mandate to govern than the previous Harper Government possessed.   

Republicans should pay attention.  Youth, looks, smart-sounding, reasonable candidates win elections.  Obama is not winning because he is a radical Leftist:  He is winning because Obama is hiding and masking every Leftist impulse he has.  America is a much more conservative nation than Canada, yet Canada, with a telegenic, clever, and politically astute conservative leader has just re-elected, with a much stronger mandate, the Conservative Party and its popular leader. 

Republicans:  watch, plan, note, and learn.  Think of a Jindal-Pailin, Cantor-Palin, Jindal-Cantor type ticket.  Think utter ideological fidelity combined with pleasing and energetic personality.  Think victory.  Think victory of the most conservative positions the electorate will allow.  That is precisely what Democrats have done.  That is also precisely what conservatives in our friends to the North have done.  Harper's victory should school Republicans in politics today.

Bruce Walker is the author of  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and the recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.